The U.S. Forest Service and Eastman Kodak Co. have developed an infrared camera that will allow forest workers to track the spread of insects attacking trees.
Once processed, camera color images provide scientists with interesting information on the condition of tree stands.Red trees are alive and healthy. Green trees are dead. The most helpful part of the illustration are the yellow trees; they are dying from insect attacks or fire damage but look green to the naked eye.
The Boise, Payette and Sawtooth national forests were chosen to evaluate the digital image cameras because of their diverse and extensive forest pest outbreaks.
"This means that we can get a jump on stopping the spread of insect and disease epidemics as well as plan treatment for stands burned by wildfires," said Andy Knapp, remote sensing specialist for the Intermountain Region of the Forest Service.
"Tree stands in the Boise, Payette and Sawtooth national forests have been under attack for the last eight years, and in some situations it's been very severe," Knapp said.
Overcrowded stands of trees are perfect targets for wildfires, insect attacks and outbreaks of disease. "It's like getting a CAT scan for trees," said Knapp. "Trees may be green and healthy-looking on the outside but be sick and dying on the inside."
The camera will remain in southwestern Idaho until next week before moving to forests in Colorado. It will be used there to evaluate recent wildfires and damage to stands of trees.